Call for Scotland to think internationally

Teach language of business in schools, says Chambers of Commerce

Liz CameronA new campaign to help boost international trade is demanding that “the language of business” is included in the school curriculum .

The Scottish Business Voice Campaign, led by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, is also pressing the case for Britain to remain within the European Union and repeating calls for air passenger duty to be scrapped.

Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said there were not enough Scottish companies succeeding on a global scale.

“If we are to become a more dynamic, broadly based and growing economy, then many more businesses will need to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by international trade,” she said.

“Our Governments have historically set targets for increasing the value of our international exports.  This has merit, but a welcomed additional target would be to increase the number of Scottish businesses involved in exporting, both in goods and services.

“If we want to be more international, then we need to think more internationally, beginning in our schools, where international business languages must be taught from primary school right through to the end of secondary schooling and beyond.

“Over the past two decades, the number of students studying modern languages at Higher or equivalent has fallen by over 20%. This is a damaging trend which needs to be reversed.  We should look more closely at where economic growth will be attained and that should determine the languages delivered by the supply side, ensuring the curriculum reflects needs of business more.”

Ms Cameron said businesses had fought a long battle to persuade the UK Government to agree to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Scotland which must be done “without delay”.

Referring to it as a “tax on trade” she said  Edinburgh Airport last month predicted that even the Scottish Government’s planned 50% cut in the tax could deliver almost a million additional passengers per year through Scotland’s airports by 2020, supporting around 3,800 new jobs and producing £1 billion of additional economic value to our economy by 2020.

“By going further and abolishing the tax completely, we will enable even more benefits to the Scottish economy,” said Ms Cameron.

On EU membership, she said: “Firms have told us that remaining as part of the EU single market is in the best interests of Scotland with current and future exporters citing the EU as their main target market for exporting goods and services.

“By all means seek reform, for example around what constitutes state aid and how we can make public procurement work for small businesses in Scotland, but having yet another referendum in Scotland would create uncertainty and, as Scottish business leaders, our energy and efforts are, and will continue to be, devoted to growing our economy and creating jobs.”

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